By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
By the opening of classes this coming school year, the Department of Education (DepEd) is expecting over 12,000 classrooms to be completed and ready to be used by learners nationwide.
Education Secretary Leonor Briones, in a recent briefing in Malacañang as part of the department’s preparations for the opening of School Year (SY) 2019-2020, clarified that the implementation of the School Building Program is under the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
“The funds are directly downloaded to the DPWH,” Briones said.
“We don’t see the color of the money for the school buildings – talagang ang implementation ay DPWH,” she added.
Meanwhile, DepEd Undersecretary Alain Del Pascua said there are still thousands of classrooms being constructed as part of the school building program under DPWH.
“When it comes to school buildings, there are about 66, 050 classrooms being constructed right now,” he explaine, noting that the construction of these classrooms have been “ongoing.”
“By the opening of classes and by the end of June, there will be completed of about 12,752 classrooms already completed and ready to be used for the next school year,” Pascua said.
Pascua noted that these classrooms are aside from the 4,000 construction of new classrooms DepEd has programmed for this year.
“Even though we did not have the [construction of the] 4,000 [classrooms] move before the elections and until now, we still have about 12,000 to be completed and 66,000 ongoing,” he explained.
The completion of the 66,000 plus classrooms, Pascua said, depends on DPWH.
“It’s the DPWH who’s doing the School Building Program,” he explained.
“On the part of DepEd, we program them [classrooms], we identify the schools and the areas where they will be built and we will pass on the implementation to DPWH,” he explained.
Pascua noted that ideally, these 66,000 plus classrooms “should have finished” by the end of this year.
“The problem we see is that there were years prior to 2019 where the life of the funds are two years, the implementation is always delayed,” he said.
Despite this, Pascua assured that DepEd has already asked DPWH to “speed up the completion of the construction of these buildings.” Within the year, he noted that DepEd will be implementing a monitoring of all the buildings and projects “so we can always remind them on a monthly basis.”
Briones earlier underscored the DepEd’s efforts to ensure the readiness of almost 62,000 schools, 47,205 of which are public, that will accommodate the projected 27.8 million learners in the coming school year.
“Given the continuously increasing population of our schoolchildren and the increasing number of challenges that we have to hurdle, we are also increasing and expanding our existing efforts to deliver quality, accessible, relevant, and liberating basic education,” Briones said during the Weekly Economic Press Briefing held in Malacañang.
DepEd data showed that from a total of 27,018,509, the number of learners is expected to rise to 27,817,737—a 2.95% growth rate from the previous school year.
In preparation for the opening of classes on June 3, Briones also shared the DepEd’s programs, projects, and activities which include the early registration held from January 26 to February 22.
“Through child mapping and community advocacies carried out by schools, approximately five million new entrants from Kindergarten and Grades 1, 7, and 11 were able to register early,” DepEd said.
Briones also lauded the implementation of the “Brigada Eskwela” which kicked off nationwide on May 20 and will last until May 25.
The national schools maintenance program gathers learners, parents, teachers, community members, partners from the public and private sector, and other stakeholders to “contribute their time, effort, and resources to ensure that the schools are safe and conducive to learning come the opening of classes.”
“We are grateful for the massive outpouring of love and support to our public schools,” Briones said –citing the “consistent increase in resources generated and volunteers mobilized by the program.”
Briones also announced the 2019 “Oplan Balik Eskwela” which will also provide a venue at the Central, Regional, and Division Offices to address the problems and concerns encountered by the public at the start of the school year. The Public Assistance and Command Center at the Central Office shall operate from May 27 to June 7.